No hurling on the ditch by GAA or club stalwarts when it comes to coaching

Keeping as many children involved for as long as possible is vital for the game

The GAA has made huge strides in coaching. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The GAA has made huge strides in coaching. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 01:00

Eoin FitzPatrick, a 30-something-year-old primary teacher, is the son of Eamonn (and Hannah). He was baptised or maybe dipped in the blue of his local GAA club, Cumann Barra Naofa (St Finbarr’s), on the south side of Cork City.

FitzPatrick has devoted much for his free time over the past two-and-a-half years stitching together a coaching plan for his beloved St Finbarr’s.

This is a great club which has fallen out of the habit of winning county senior championships. So FitzPatrick and his trusty committee of Tim Finn, Ivan O’Mahony and Brendan Ó Driscoll were volunteered to draw up the coaching road map which they hope will produce crops of players to put the club back into the champions category.

But FitzPatrick didn’t inhale this love of club from the Togher air. No, it’s in his DNA. Eamonn, the father, is blue to the core. He was a champion hurler with many county medals in a very large back pocket. His oration at the recent launch of the Todhcaí Gorm ( The Blue Future ) brought the house down.

Here is an excerpt.

“For as long as I remember the Barrs has been at the very core of what I am, for better or worse. I can honestly say that, after my family, the Barrs is and has been the most important thing in my life.

“Being a Barrs person and playing for the Barrs was never an option for me – it was ingrained from birth. My family were steeped in the Barrs and the parish tradition.

Sibling excellence
“My brother, Seán

FitzPatrick, who was 13 years older than me, was a fine player, so from an early age I was going to matches watching him play for the Barrs and my sisters played camogie for the club.

“Seán Condon [Cork All-Ireland winning player and captain in the 1940s] was a god in our house – his feats were spoken of in revered terms. At that time, pre-television, the main conversation centred on how we would do in the county.

“One of my earliest memories is seeing the Barr’s beat the Glen in the 1955 replayed county final. I was four at the time. I can still see a bandaged and bloodied Mick Ryan [Tipperary All-Ireland winning player in the 1950s] starring at centre back.

“In the years that followed a brilliant Barrs team dominated football in the county. Stalwarts of that time continue to play leading roles in our club, people such as Donie Hurley, Mick Keating, John O’Driscoll, Mickey MacCarthy and current president Pat Lougheed.”

Those were the days. Eamon’s introduction to the hurling world was similar to most children of his generation. Coaching wasn’t in the hurling vocabulary.

We all know an Eamonn or an Eoin FitzPatrick. There are similar people in every GAA club in the country. They work tirelessly to better their clubs.

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